Friday, June 14, 2019

Lots of Beginnnings

 The best beginning was the one that began yesterday -- the beginning of summer vacation. I have plenty of work to do, but at least it's on my schedule. On my very first morning, I was able to join the Plein Air painting group at Donald County Park, where I painted an outcrop:
I think it needs a few finishing touches.

Later, I started in with some summer reading. I usually avoid popular fiction, but this has gotten so much publicity, I had to find out for myself if it's worth all the buzz.
If you've read it ... no spoilers, please.

I started a hat pattern, Hoopla, from PomPom magazine. I have a small collection of these beautiful magazines, but I haven't actually knit anything from them. Their patterns tend to be a bit complicated. 

This hat, for example, has a Latvian Braid, something I've always wanted to learn. I did learn in a class a few years ago, but I've forgotten everything from that. It turns out that You Tube has some pretty good tutorials.
Wah-Lah! I did it! The pattern is from this issue:
 And, I've found some time to hang around with one of my favorite girls:
Now, I just need some sunny weather for sun-dying cloth, and I'll be all set.


Monday, June 10, 2019

A Trend In Decline? Or Is It The Internet?

In the past, when I've gone to the Bead&Button show in Milwaukee, I had a sense of panic when I entered the market. So many booths! How could see them all? How could I figure out what to buy on my budget?
But it wasn't like that Saturday, when I went with a friend. We stepped into the marketplace, and there were about half as many stalls as there were a decade ago. I last went two years ago, and the decline in the number of stalls was drastic even from that time.

On the upside, it was a lot easier to see everything and figure out what to buy. But it was sad to see all that open space and to worry about the future of jewelry-making. I talked to a lot of the vendors, and they said the problem is all the online purchasing.
I don't understand that. I use the Internet when I must, but I really prefer to see the beads in person. You can't get the same sense for the colors and luster and size of the beads on the Internet. I like going to a store, where you can talk to the employees and the other shoppers. 

In general, I am not a fan of moving all of life online.  The type of blogging we do is, I think, an exception. We are a group who make friends. But in general, I think it's good for us to get out and interact with people.

Still, we had a good time. We took a break and walked to a Thai restaurant for dinner. On the way we saw some of Milwaukee's famed architecture:

And the shopping was still a lot of fun. We found plenty of great elements for jewelry making:

And our goodie-bags had a lot of mini-kits and useful tools.
We both took classes. Tsela did a class in layering with resin. I took a very cool class on beading a spiral bracelet. The good news is that I learned a skill I've been wanting: peyote spiraling. The bad news is that it is a very involved project and I didn't finish in the class:
And, changing topics completely, I have to thank Kat for identifying the bush in my last post. It is indeed a Weigela. When we downsize into a smaller house, I want to make sure there is enough sun for me to plant one of these!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Week From Today

...will be the first day of my summer vacation! I have so many ideas for projects flying around my brain. I need to write them down and then focus on actually finishing a few things.

I definitely want to improve my sewing skills this summer. I've been working on the Death Cat project. 
You may not remember it because it has languished for quite a while, but one of these days I'll have a finished quilt to show you.

Tonight I'm working on an annual tradition:
I bake cookies for the kids I proctor final exams for.  Most of my students don't get home baking, so they are very appreciative.

And Wisconsin is finally blooming:

Does anyone know what these are? I found them on a little after-work walk and was amazed by their beauty.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

On Not Being A Yarn Snob

Full disclosure: I totally am a yarn snob. I don't mind paying $28 for a skein of good sock yarn if I really love the yarn. I'm a bit wool-sensitive, so I'm a sucker for wool mixed with silk or cashmere.

But I do get seduced by less expensive yarns from time to time, and I have to admit that they can be nice to knit with and wear. This hat was a pleasure to make:


It's just a simple beanie with a bit of slouch that I made with Lion Brand Cupcake. I saw these sweet cakes at Joanne Fabrics, and I had to try one out. I like the hat, but I would have preferred more graduatl color changes.

And then there was another Lion Brand product that I saw at Joanne's. The spring colors captured my attention and I added a cake of  Comfy Cotton Blend  to my cart.
Cupcake is 100% acrylic, while Comfy Cotton is a blend of cotton and polyester. I don't think any fiber is more pleasant to knit with, more reliable, or more hard-wearing than wool. I love that you can play around with the blocking and that it has memory.

But I know I'm not the only wool-sensitive knitter out there. These two yards were pretty enough to grab my attention. I'd love to find a non-wool yarn that works for sweaters. I have high hopes for Comfy Cotton. In fact, I'm trying it out on Hitchhiker #3:
And I have to say that these Lion Brand non-wool yarns are very easy on the bank account.

I worry about cotton stretching out too much. If you've used a cotton or other non-wool yarn for a sweater and it worked out, let me know!